A thermal barrier coating composition is provided. The composition has a base oxide, a primary stabilizer, and at least two additional cationic oxide dopants. Preferably, a pair of group A and group B defect cluster-promoting oxides is used in conjunction with the base and primary stabilizer oxides. The new thermal barrier coating is found to have significantly lower thermal conductivity and better sintering resistance. In preferred embodiments, the base oxide is selected from zirconia and hafnia. The group A and group B cluster-promoting oxide dopants preferably are selected such that the group A dopant has a smaller cationic radius than the primary stabilizer oxide, and so that the primary stabilizer oxide has a small cationic radius than that of the group B dopant.